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Metascience Enabling Upgrades to the Scientific Process

Beyond Science 2.0 in the light of polyhedral metaphors? (Part #1)

Enhanced simulation of scientific processes
Topography of the challenge of humanity
Reconsidering the imaginary unit -- the "fudge factor" of science
Symbolic implications: ICSU as a case study
Psychosocial coherence as a resonance hybrid?
Polyhedral containers for metaphorical morphing complexes
Global conversation and the nature of any emergent consensus

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Annex to Challenges More Difficult for Science than Going to Mars
-- or exploring the origins of the Universe or of Life on Earth


There is a sense in which the methodology of science is held to be "written in stone" -- and believed justifiably to be so -- as with revealed religion before it. As noted separately in the main paper, it exhibits few characteristics which bear comparison to the software upgrade process -- despite vigorous interest in the possibility of open science, occasionally termed Science 2.0. There is little question of annual "conceptware upgrades".

In the light of the argument in the main paper, the question is how to extend "science" from its narrow focus to one which encompasses what is implied by the term, namely a particular approach to knowing -- irrespective of the domain to which it may be applied. This therefore includes preoccupation with psychosocial intangibles whose very existence is so vigorously challenged by some forms of science.

Metascience is understood here as offering a key to engaging meaningfully with the global problematique via a global resolutique -- taking account of the marked dynamics of disagreement. To this end, and in order to achieve a coherent focus, a generic understanding is sought by separately conflating through metaphor each of the following three clusters:

  • problem, question, challenge, threat, or provocative assertion
  • resolution, answer, explanation, strategic response, shared agreement, or (unexamined) assumption
  • disagreement, discord, inadequacy, incommensurability, incomprehensibility, or incompleteness.

Some possibilities to respond to this condition are indicated below. In particular, the clusters above are metaphorically associated with the primary characteristics of polyhedra as constituting metaphorical containers for coherence.

An initial question is what exactly is sought through a "metascience" perspective. What are the criteria, as tentatively scoped out in the past (Criteria for an Adequate Meta-model, 1971)? Various critics of the knowledge processes of science have formulated other criteria, as noted separately (Knowledge Processes Neglected by Science: insights from the crisis of science and belief, 2012). Other approaches to the matter include:

As a characteristic of the challenge of any metascience, in practice there is typically little love lost between the advocates of any of these approaches or their sympathizers (Epistemological Challenge of Cognitive Body Odour: exploring the underside of dialogue, 2006). Part of the challenge is then to factor in this dynamic and the cognitive styles it reflects (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). Each approach, whether implicitly or explicitly, marginalizes and deprecates the others -- thereby excluding insights of some value, or valued by some. Each therefore acquires paradoxical significance through the questions it fails to ask -- a pattern with wider consequences for any form of governance (Strategic Implications of 12 Unasked Questions in Response to Disaster, 2013).

As argued in the main paper with respect to science, it is not so much the coherence that these integrative approaches offer that is of current global significance. Rather it is what they have been unable to recognize as most challenging to any fruitful integration. Like Science 1.0, through lack of self-reflexivity they are as much a part of the global problematique as of the global resolutique.

These approaches are challenged by the incompleteness theorems of Kurt Gödel with regard to mathematical logic. They establish inherent limitations of all but the most trivial axiomatic systems capable of doing arithmetic. Of greater significance to the argument here is however the lack of concern with humanity in these approaches to metascience. As with theological framing of the matter, they could be said to be inherently indifferent to suffering in practice, as argued separately (Indifference to the Suffering of Others: occupying the moral and ethical high ground through doublespeak, 2013). There is the further challenge of the human comprehensibility and communicability of the insights associated with any form of meta-model, as argued with respects to symmetry groups (Dynamics of Symmetry Group Theorizing: comprehension of psycho-social implication, 2008).

It is tragic that Science 1.0 should have learned so little from the religious pattern it aspires to replace. Yet many of the features of religion are only too evident in science as it is practiced. It is possible to recognize equivalents of: revelations, doctrines, (primarily male) priesthoods, acolytes, sanctuaries, condemnation of heresy, exclusivism, efforts to subsume the insights of others, and the sense of being specially chosen and uniquely mandated. The dilemmas are separately highlighted (Self-reflexive Challenges of Integrative Futures, 2008). Unfortunately the dysfunctionality is replicated in the more tangible practices of governance. In envisaging upgrades to science in the light of the software model, some thought could be given to the challenge of "backward compatibility" between Science 2.0, or 3.0, and Science 1.0 -- as well as those of any legacy methodology.

Given the "meta" quest common to both science and theology, and the inspiration of theology for some key mathematicians, consideration of the challenge of comprehension could be explored through "mathematical theology" (Mathematical Theology -- Future Science of Confidence in Belief : self-reflexive global reframing to enable faith-based governance, 2011). This is consistent with the framing of an Omega Point by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, namely the idea of a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe is evolving.

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